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Hanukkah Or Chanukah

 

(Hebrew for "dedication"), annual festival of the Jews
celebrated on eight successive days. It begins on the 25th
day of Kislev, the third month of the Jewish calendar,
corresponding, approximately, to December in the Gregorian
calendar. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Feast of
Dedication, and Feast of the Maccabees, Hanukkah
commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem by
Judas Maccabee in 165 BC after the temple had been profaned
by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of Syria and overlord of
Palestine. In 168 BC, on a date corresponding approximately
to December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, the temple was
dedicated to the worship of Zeus Olympius by order of
Antiochus. An altar to Zeus was set up on the high altar.
When Judas Maccabee recaptured Jerusalem three years later,
he had the temple purged and a new altar put up in place of
the desecrated one. The temple was then rededicated to God
with festivities that lasted eight days. According to
talmudic tradition, only one cruse of pure olive oil,
sealed by the high priest and necessary for the
rededicatory ritual, could be found, but that small
quantity burned miraculously for eight days. A principal
feature of the present-day celebration, commemorating this
miracle, is the lighting of candles, one the first night,
two the second, and so on until a special eight-branched
candelabrum is completely filled. The principal source for
the story of Hanukkah is the Talmud. 
 



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